So recently I finished a screenplay, and I tried to show it to a bunch of friends, associates, co-workers, clients, and miscellaneous humans who I like for one reason or another. The lukewarm-ness of the reception I got kind of boggled my mind. I've always known that a huge number of scripts circulate the city of Los Angeles (and its gigantic metropolitan area) but it didn't occur to me that people would regard the fact that I, the great Giles Bowkett, had written a script, with the same indifference they would give the news that some random mere mortal had written a script.
Just goes to show how wrong you can be. Of all the people I've asked to read it, I've gotten only one of them to actually do it. One person! Nobody else is even curious to find out if it's any good at all. And these are people who generally seem to have pretty good regard for me.
What this means is that writing a good screenplay is either a lot harder than I ever guessed or a lot easier. Maybe writing a good script is so hard that everybody expects screenplays to suck; maybe writing a good script is so easy that the only hard part is selling it. I really don't know. All I can tell is that nobody seems to even have any idle curiousity about my script one way or the other.
But I think the answer is probably that writing a script is hard. Here's why. This is a screenwriter's advice to other screenwriters, about how to get an agent:
First, write a great script. Now, be very careful to have only one copy of it. Immediately upon writing FADE OUT, THE END, take that single copy and place it in a small, sturdy safe. Close and lock the safe. Take the safe directly to your basement, dig a hole seven feet deep, and place the safe in the hole. Refill the hole. Lock the basement door securely, and then go to bed.
The next day, get up and go to the basement. The place will be lousy with agents, several of them already involved in a bidding war over your script.
That's from a screenwriting site, a post by one of the writers of Shrek.
He also mentions that he told this to a huge classroom full of screenwriting students at UCLA and they were all ready to lynch him, because the implication, of course, is that the script you love oh so much, the one your entire heart and soul have been invested in, the masterwork never equalled before or since, is in fact almost certainly a steaming pile of crap.
Fortunately, even though the probability of my sucking as a screenwriter is apparently quite high, I'm definitely a good programmer. Possibly a very good programmer. So that's something, at least.